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Britain’s Victorian housing stock could see values plummet if government introduces EPC regulation

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The government is on a mission to retrofit the UK’s ageing housing stock – which accounts for roughly 20 per cent of the nation’s CO2 emissions.

Its current aim is to have as many homes as possible reach a C rating by 2035 in England and Wales, with an even earlier target being set for private rented homes.

This is a worry for homeowners living in Britain’s Victorian housing stock, which could lose some of its value if further energy efficiency regulations come into force. 

EPC is a rating scheme which bands properties between A and G, with an A rating being the most efficient and G the least efficient

EPC is a rating scheme which bands properties between A and G, with an A rating being the most efficient and G the least efficient

At present, about three in five homes have a D rating or worse, according to Rightmove. 

However, ONS data shows that those built before 1900 have an E rating on average, thanks to their poor insulation and lack of double glazing. 

Upgrading homes to meet the targets could cost up to £65billion, according to Government estimates – and homeowners are expected to foot the bill.

What is an EPC rating? 

EPC is a rating scheme which bands properties between A and G, with an A rating being the most efficient and G the least efficient.

The rating is based on the building’s energy features such as the building materials used, the heating systems and its insulation.

EPC ratings

Band A – 92 plus (most efficient)

Band B – 81 to 91

Band C – 69 to 80

Band D – 55 to 68

Band E – 39 to 54

Band F – 21 to 38

Band G – 1 to 20 (least efficient) 

The survey must be carried out by an accredited energy assessor and entered into a government-approved software to generate a score for the EPC, typically ranging from 0 to 100, simplified into bands A to G for domestic property.

The score remains valid for 10 years with homeowners needing to arrange a new one whenever a property is sold or rented – anyone failing to have one under these circumstances can be fined.

Ensuring adequate loft, underfloor or cavity wall insulation, upgrading to double or triple glazed windows, draught proofing and hot water tank insulation are just some examples of improvements that can boost an EPC rating.

There are currently no legal requirements for homeowners to have a minimum EPC rating, although landlords need to achieve a minimum EPC of E to let a property.

However, there are concerns that homeowners living in energy inefficient homes will come under increasing pressure to upgrade them.

Earlier this year the UK Government consulted on how mortgage lenders can help householders improve the energy performance of their homes.

This included proposals to introduce a target-based approach for improving the energy performance of lenders’ portfolios through a portfolio average target of EPC band C by 2030, for which the government is currently analysing the feedback.

Energy efficiency: About three in five homes in the UK have a D rating or worse, whilst those built before 1900 have an E rating on average, according to ONS data

Energy efficiency: About three in five homes in the UK have a D rating or worse, whilst those built before 1900 have an E rating on average, according to ONS data

This could see mortgage lenders become more reluctant to lend on properties with EPC ratings below C, because it would bring down their average. 

Timothy Douglas, policy manager at Propertymark said: ‘If this were to come into effect, it could cause distortion in the market.

‘If less efficient properties were harder to purchase for example, then their value would be affected as they would become less attractive or attainable.

‘Traditionally some older properties have actually held a premium over other property as they offer attractive settings and curb appeal but changes to borrowing could see more efficient properties start to hold a premium instead.’

What can homeowners do?

At present there appears to be a small price gap opening up between energy efficient and energy inefficient homes.  

There is a £9,840 difference between an average home with an EPC C and an EPC E rating, based on Savills data, although this increases to £47,605 when comparing EPC B to EPC F.

According to a recent Rics survey, although a third of property professionals had seen an increase in demand for energy-efficient homes over the past year, more than three quarters said a home’s EPC rating had little or no impact on its sale price.

There is a £9,840 difference between an average home with an EPC C and E rating, based on Savills data, although this increases to £47,605 when comparing EPC B to F.

There is a £9,840 difference between an average home with an EPC C and E rating, based on Savills data, although this increases to £47,605 when comparing EPC B to F.

More than half surveyed by Rics said the EPC rating had little impact, while 23 per cent believed that it had no impact whatsoever.

At the moment the government is yet to enforce any regulation or indeed a compulsory energy performance certificate rating of ‘C’ on UK properties.

But if they were to do so, the demand for Britain’s Victorian housing stock will almost certainly be impacted, forcing homeowners to either upgrade or see the value of their home fall.

The cost of upgrading a home from an E to a C rating is more than £17,000 on average, according to analysis by Savills.

But these calculations will vary depending on the specific needs of each property, with many likely to require a new heating system on top of other improvements such as wall and loft insulation.

The average cost of a heat pump system ranges between £11,000 and £18,000, whilst for homeowners off the gas grid, replacing oil with a low-carbon heating alternative could cost more than £30,000, according to Liquid Gas UK.

Many homeowners living in Victorian homes across the country will therefore be unable to afford the renovation costs without government support.

Depending on a homeowner’s circumstances, as well as the type of property, small pockets of funding are available.

This includes Local Authority Development Grants, Energy Company Obligation and Home Upgrade Grants.

Adding loft insulation is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to increase a property's EPC rating.

Adding loft insulation is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to increase a property’s EPC rating.

But for the vast majority, there is no support available, meaning people have no choice other than to do it themselves or wait for further government intervention.

‘The challenge of incentivising homeowners to retrofit their properties will be made more difficult if the costs involved prove to be too much, especially in areas with low property values,’ said Douglas.

‘This is because the cost of the retrofitting would not be regained in the capital value of the property after works are completed.

‘National and regional strategies need to be established in order to support homeowners with funding to tackle the vast retrofit challenge that lays ahead.’

One way the government’s could begin incentivising homeowners to start retrofitting their homes would be to cut VAT on green home upgrades.

This might encourage more people to install low carbon technologies and improve energy efficiency.

Developers can reclaim VAT on new builds, or when converting non-residential buildings such as barns, or homes that have not been lived in for 10 years.

But homeowners looking to retrofit their Victorian properties with all the latest energy saving improvements are not entitled to do so.

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Liverpool ONE welcomes Tessuti (GB)

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Grosvenor has announced that designer retailer, Tessuti, has opened its new global flagship store at Liverpool ONE, demonstrating the brand’s ongoing vote of confidence in the destination. The new location on Paradise Street follows Tessuti’s consistently strong performance at Liverpool ONE and spans two floors measuring 22,000ft². Boasting Tessuti’s biggest store to date, this is four times the size of the previous Liverpool ONE site. The store interiors have been styled with a subtle nod to classic Italian architecture whilst incorporating state-of-the-art technical features, combining classic design with an industrial-chic colour palette and cutting-edge digital screens. Working with local Liverpudlian digital and production agency Liquid, the new Tessuti store has exclusive instore stills and videos showcasing exciting campaigns; the first of which is rumoured to feature Liverpool stars Stephen Graham, Abbey Clancy, Miles Kane and Chelcee Grimes.

 

Aligning with Liverpool ONE’s community ethos, Tessuti’s new global flagship will also support the vibrant community in the heart of Liverpool, championing local businesses through collaborations, pop-ups, and in-store events.

 

Alison Clegg, Managing Director, Asset Management, Grosvenor, commented: “Tessuti’s commitment to Liverpool ONE, through its relocation within the destination and decision to make the new store its global flagship, strengthens our position as one of Europe’s leading retail and leisure destinations. The impressive growth trajectory of Tessuti within Liverpool is a great indication of the potential for success and expansion of other brands that join Liverpool ONE.”

 

Chris Rowan, Director of Brand & Customer Connection at Tessuti, added: “The opening of our global flagship at Liverpool ONE is a huge moment for us. Liverpool is an urban hub for international fashion retailers, so upsizing and relocating within the city’s leading retail and leisure destination was a natural next step. We feel confident that it is the ideal home for our flagship location, and are excited to offer Liverpool ONE’s visitors our most stylish project yet.”

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What you need to know about having a home swimming pool

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This summer, it’s not just sales of rosé wine and ice cream that have rocketed during the heatwave. Interest in swimming pools has also surged.

‘This sweltering summer has undoubtedly inspired people to install swimming pools,’ says Sallie Leslie-Golding of the Swimming Pool and Allied Trade Association (SPATA). 

‘There are now 270,000 in-ground pools in the UK, with about 65 per cent of them in the southern half of the country.’

There is something incredibly glamorous about a Hockney-blue pool. But how does the reality match up to the imagery?

Refreshing: Church House in Potterne, Wiltshire, is on sale for £1.95m. Interest in swimming pools has surged with the hot weather

Refreshing: Church House in Potterne, Wiltshire, is on sale for £1.95m. Interest in swimming pools has surged with the hot weather

‘It’s been wonderful to be able to take a swim at the end of a long day,’ says Felicity Cooper, 55, who in 2006 installed a 12m x 6m pool outside her country house in Potterne, near Devizes, Wiltshire. 

‘It has also been great for the children, Lily and Ryan, who learnt to swim here.’

Felicity stresses the importance of finding the right setting for a new pool. 

She ensured hers was west-facing to catch the evening sun; then she went to the trouble of digging out a mini-amphitheatre so that the displaced earth formed a windbreak around the pool itself.

‘The pool is the optimum distance from the house, being not so near that it detracts from the garden and not so far away that anyone in trouble would not be heard by those inside.

‘It is far from trees so few leaves blow into the water and, with the children in mind, it has a top quality safety cover. Felicity’s six-bedroom Jacobean stone house standing in 1.7 acres is for sale for £1.95 million.

Opinions vary as to whether an outdoor pool helps or hinders a house sale. Some think that the hassle of maintenance may be off-putting to buyers. However, the property buying agent, Jonathan Harington, disagrees.

‘I have had many clients come to me with a pool on their wishlist of luxuries,’ he says. ‘But I have never had anyone say they wouldn’t buy a house because of the pool. If they felt strongly they could easily fill it in anyway.’

Yet owning a swimming pool is an expensive hobby. An above-ground pool — like a giant paddling pool — costs from £1,500 to £15,000. These pools may not quite cut it in terms of glamour, but their lower water capacity means maintenance costs are more reasonable.

For those looking at a more substantial in-ground pool, one with a liner finish of PVC will cost about £75,000. A concrete pool, finished with mosaic tiles, marbled plaster or paint will be about £125,000.

Larger projects can easily cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

You may opt for an infinity pool — a pool designed with an edge that gives the illusion that the water is overflowing. 

Those who want to improve their fitness may have a counter current device installed; the equivalent of swimming on a treadmill.

Many pool owners are interested in sustainability and heating the pool with solar panels is popular, as are covers that help heat retention.

Maintaining an outdoor swimming pool is expensive. The cost of heating and chemicals has increased so buyers should budget for at least £8 to £10 a day, dependent on the weather, according to SPATA.

Anyone fancying a workout in their own home may be interested in Ivy Cottage, Grendon, Northamptonshire.

Outside, the four-bedroom cottage is a 10m x 5m pool neatly positioned in the north-west corner to catch the sun.

‘After swimming in the pool, you could go running, riding or cycling on the countless trails nearby,’ says Ian Denton, of Jackson Stops. ‘It’s a lifestyle amenity in your own garden.’ Ivy Cottage is for sale for £825,000.

On the market… splash out 

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Radisson launches new resort in Greece

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Radisson Hotel Group has launched its latest Greek resort in Skiathos. Skiathos, the westernmost of the Sporades islands, is known for its stunning coastline of more than 60 beaches with soft sand and clear blue waters, as well as sea caves, impressive rock formations, and hiking trails on the tree-covered hills along the north shore made famous as the location for the filming of Mamma Mia. The island’s Byzantine churches and monasteries, Venetian-style Bourtzi fortress, and Papadiamantis House with its typical architecture are important parts of the island’s rich history.

 

The resort’s 84 rooms and suites are decorated in a modern, minimalist style, and most of them offer views of the hotel pool or the sea. Private balconies or terraces are available in select rooms, and the resort’s biggest suites feature private whirlpools for ultimate privacy and relaxation. The resort is ideally suited for weddings with its own on-site orthodox chapel and versatile outdoor pool area that offers receptions with stunning views. The main all-day dining restaurant celebrates Greek and Mediterranean flavors on its lunch and dinner menus. The poolside bar offers breakfast treats and late-night snacks as well as a wide selection of drinks and an extensive wine list. For guests looking to keep up their fitness routine, a well-equipped gym is available.

 

“We are excited to offer our guests a fantastic resort experience on the beautiful island of Skiathos, as we continue to expand our Greek resort portfolio. Radisson Resort Plaza Skiathos allows guests to switch off and relax surrounded by stunning natural beauty,” said Yilmaz Yildirimlar, Area Senior Vice President at Radisson Hotel Group.

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